Wednesday, August 17, 2011


There is no argument that TV is stronger right now than it has ever been.  The four best dramas of all time aired in the last ten years.  After hitting a major lull after Seinfeld, sitcoms are back and networks, especially NBC, are airing shows that are not purely broad comedy.  Most of this quality comes from the rise of original programming on premium cable, which then spread to basic cable, so shows did not have to be as popular to survive because the networks were getting some revenue beyond just advertising and the usual standards and practices of prime time network television did not have to apply.  So it's no surprise that the best networks for original programming are on cable, namely HBO, AMC, and FX.  HBO had the first two of those aforementioned four greatest dramas of all time, The Sopranos and The Wire.

HBO still has some greatness in Game of Thrones and Curb Your Enthusiasm and Treme, but in pure quality of shows, it may actually be third right now.  AMC has great schlock in The Walking Dead and great acting in The Killing.  FX has the awesome Sons of Anarchy and Justified (I mean, really awesome) and almost unbelievably great comedies in Archer, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Wilfred.  But, more importantly, these two networks have the three best shows on TV.  Two are obviously the other two of the four best dramas of all time, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.  The third is FX's Louie.  Of the three, Louie may be the only honest-to-god perfect one of the bunch.

The broadcast networks don't really have any great dramas -- I don't watch The Good Wife, but Grey's Anatomy is sometimes very good and House used to be sometimes very good.  They do have some great comedies -- Parks and Recreation and Community, especially.  It's possible even that those two shows are the second and third best comedies on the air, but neither is close to Louie.  In fact, the continuum of TVcomedies right now goes something like this:
<Louie-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parks & Rec-Curb-Community------Everything else->

You can take it from esteemed writers like Chuck Klosterman or Alan Sepinwall, but you really just need to watch it.  Louie is sometimes funny and sometimes thought-provoking and sometimes both and sometimes you're just not sure, but it always leaves me shaking my head at how brilliant it is.  It's probably the closest I've ever seen to the epitome of "I can't describe greatness, but I know it when I see it."  Even more, I know what perfection is every time I watch Louie.

No comments: